The Hope Within

Christmas Crib Father Christmas Nativity Scene

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

As Christmas quickly approaches I can not help but ponder what this time of year means to people. What comes to mind when you think about the Christmas season? For some it means food, family, and gifts. For others it means sadness and pain. Yet, for others it means presents, trees, and stress. What word would you use to describe Christmas?

As I thought about this question, one word kept coming back to me. Hope. Personally Christmas is not so much about the decorations, food, or the presents. Do not misunderstand me, I love all of these things. However, Christmas is so much more! It is a time to stop and remember the gift that was given to each of us all those years ago. There were not immaculate decorations, tables of food, and tons of presents under a tree. No, there was a young woman and her husband, a stable, and a star. More importantly there was Jesus. There was Hope.

When I stop and think back on that first Christmas, my mind often turns to Mary. I can not help but wonder what she must have been feeling. What thoughts were going through her mind as she traveled with her husband on that long journey?

Any woman who has carried a child understands how Mary must have felt physically. We can all relate to the discomfort she must have been in and the anxiety she must have experienced along the way. As a mother I understand the uncertainty she must have felt concerning childbirth. I know the excitement she felt as she thought about holding her baby boy for the first time. But what about the deeper feelings Mary must have experienced? What must have she been feeling deep inside her heart knowing she would soon deliver the Son of God?

I believe above all else, Mary felt Hope. Not only did she feel that Hope inside her heart, but inside her body as the Hope of the world grew.  From the very first flutter she felt, Mary knew that Hope was growing. I believe as those flutters turned into kicks and nudges, Mary understood even more that she carried the Hope of the world inside of her.

Friend, do you have this Hope? The same Hope that Mary carried all those years ago is still a gift for you today. Amid all the busyness and stress Hope can be found. No amount of money can buy it. No store sells it. It can not even be put in a pretty box and placed under the Christmas tree. Hope only comes through salvation and salvation only comes through Jesus Christ.

Do you want to lay down the sorrow that has been weighing you down? Would you like to lay aside that shame and heartache you have been carrying? Today you can. Give it all to Jesus. Let go of all that has you bound down and accept the free gift of Hope that is being offered to you today. I promise that no other gift you receive will ever measure up to the one that was given on that first Christmas oh so many years ago. Find Hope today, friend.

An Example of a Willing Servant

nativity2And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Luke 1:29-30

I love the Christmas season. I enjoy seeing all of the decorations, looking at all the pretty lights, and listening to the songs about Christmas and the birth of Jesus. I even enjoy seeing pictures of other people’s Christmas trees and all the many varieties of decorations they choose. Many times there is a new joy and sense of hope that sparks in people around Christmas.

Every morning when I wake up I plug in our Christmas lights and just stand for a moment in the silence and enjoy the scene. We have the traditional tree with decorations new and old. Our Angel sits, perched atop our tree.

We also have a nativity scene that I lay out every year. I love to take my time placing each figurine in a particular place. As I look at the pieces and the different expressions painted on each face, I often wonder what was going through the minds of each person who took a part in the birth of Jesus.

For the past couple of mornings I have been thinking about Mary.  In most nativity scenes we see, Mary is sitting, gazing at the new life which she has just brought into the world. When I look at Mary my mind drifts back to nine months before this scene.

I often wonder how Mary must have felt that day as she was visited by the angel Gabriel. We know from the Scriptures that she was confused and a little troubled. We must try to understand how the news being given to her must have come as a shock. I can not imagine the thoughts that were going through Mary’s mind.

I believe that Mary had a choice to make that day. I do not believe that the honor of carrying God’s Son was thrust upon her without her consent. In Luke 1: 38 Mary says, “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” In the moments before this statement Mary had a decision to make. She could have easily rejected this calling and carried on with her life. However, Mary allowed God to use her. She put her faith into action and trusted God.

We too are faced with choices in our lives. God has called each of us to do a particular task. Just as Mary, we have a choice to make. Do we  choose to reject that calling, or do we offer ourselves to God as willing servants? God will not force us into service for Him. He simply places a calling in our hearts, seeking our willingness to serve. Some times these tasks are simple, not requiring much sacrifice. Other times the calling may be great, requiring us to step out in faith with complete trust in God and His promise to never leave us nor forsake us. ( Deuteronomy 31:6 )

Just as Mary was faced with a seemingly impossible task, we too may be facing what seems like impossible circumstances. No matter how difficult our circumstances, no matter how big our obstacle, God has a plan. If we will do as Mary did and place or faith in God and allow ourselves to be used God will do great and mighty things through us.

I want to encourage you today with a verse from this same chapter in Luke. In verse 37 the angel tells Mary, For with God nothing shall be impossible. ”  You see, what Mary was being asked to do was impossible by her own human power, but by allowing God to use her, she accomplished the impossible. We too can do the impossible, but first we must step out in faith and allow God to use us. We must trust that God knows best and that His plan is best for our lives.

Will you commit to step out in faith today? What calling has God placed on your heart? What task has God given to you? You have a choice to make. Will you reject God’s calling for your life because of fear, or will you step out in faith and allow God to accomplish great things through you? The choice is yours today.